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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Iran to start new 'missile projects' in February, America yawns, Germany reacts

This should make everyone feel warm and fuzzy all over. Iran will be starting new 'missile projects' in February as part of its celebration of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic coup in Iran.
Guards commander Massud Jazayeri did not say whether Iran would test-fire new missiles and gave no other details of the planned events. A missile launch would be likely to add to tension with Western powers worried by Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Iran's Defense Ministry will inaugurate several missiles and arms projects during the Fajr (Dawn) 10-day period, marking the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution," he told a news conference.

New satellite projects would at the same time be unveiled by Iran's aerospace organization, he said.

Iran marks the revolution's anniversary from February 1-11, starting on the day in 1979 when the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran from exile in France.
In the meantime, the Obama administration has declined to take a leadership role in pushing for sanctions, and it has fallen to Germany's Angela Merkel, whose country may have more to lose financially by sanctions than anyone else, to be the one to push for sanctions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said on Tuesday, during a press conference with visiting President Shimon Peres in Berlin, that time and patience were running out on Iran's nuclear program and that February would see new sanctions discussed following France's rise to the presidency of the UN Security Council.

"Iran's time is up. It is now time to discuss widespread international sanctions. We have shown much patience and that patience is up," Merkel said.

The international community's efforts have not brought about change so far and it is now time to discuss tougher sanctions, Merkel added. She said that she hoped the world powers would reach a consensus agreement in February, which she described as a "decisive" month.

Merkel stressed that the sanctions would be targeted at Iran's leadership and not against its people. Teheran is aware of the threat of sanctions and is troubled by the notion, she said.
Tehran would probably be a lot more troubled if its supply of refined oil products were being cut off, but at least the Germans recognize that something has to be done. As I reported earlier, a German construction company has backed off a contract to modernize the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. And there's also word this morning that the German communications giant Siemens has said that it won't accept any more new orders from Iran.
Siemens, which is Europe's biggest engineering conglomerate, was aware of the sensitivities attached to doing business in Iran, Chief Executive Peter Loescher said.

"Some time ago, we reduced our business activities with customers in Iran," Loescher said, responding to questions at a shareholders meeting.

The Siemens board decided at the start of October not to agree to any further orders with customers in Iran, he added, noting, however, that existing orders would be fulfilled.

Loescher said there were still bids submitted by Siemens before October 2009. If they were not accepted, it would mean new business in Iran would end by mid-2010.

Siemens, which makes high-tech machinery as well as domestic appliances, generates an annual 500 million euros ($704.5 million) in sales from Iran, which last year represented 0.7 percent of the firm's overall sales.
Meanwhile, the usual rogues' gallery in Europe is resisting sanctions against Iran.
"The sanction instrument is a very blunt one, so it should be used with extreme care," Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said as he arrived for talks in Brussels with EU counterparts.

"Our aim is to get the Iranians to the negotiating table and have a political solution, and if there are any ... sanctions which can reinforce that possibility, I'm ready to look at them," Bildt said.


"With Iran, (sanctions) will work out only if all the UN Security Council permanent members agree. ... The EU is ready to do it, but to get really functioning sanctions, we need all big players in the world to be united behind this decision," stressed Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.
And of course, we already know that China and possibly Russia will not agree to sanctions so the UN Security Council will never endorse any.

The Obama administration refuses to lead. Europe refuses to abide by sanctions unless all of the permanent members of the Security Council endorse them. Germany, a second tier power at best, is stuck with the rabbinic dictum that where there are no men, one should strive to be a man (ironic given that Merkel is obviously a woman).

What could go wrong?


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